Wherein Mike Warot describes a novel approach to computing which follows George Gilders call to waste transistors.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Why we need a Free Hardware Foundation

We have the Free Software Foundation as a result of Richard Stallmans irritation with closed source software. I propose a parallel organization to help promote and propagate open source, Free hardware. I want to be able to license the bitgrid under the equivalent of the GPL. I'm certain that there are others with ideas that they want to share in the same way.

Specifically, if my bitgrid idea actually pans out, I'd like to let anyone use it in a design according to an equivalent of the GPL for hardware. They would then be bound to do the same for their designs, so that improvements can get worked into the technology, and we all benefit.

The main threat I want to hold off is that of submarine patents. If we can build an open database of ideas which can be shared by all, it could be a very powerful tool. I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know if patent or copyright law would be the best place to try to build a GPL equivalent, but I'm sure its time to figure it out.

An analogy made in this post by Eric Ste-Marie in 1999:

On the other hand, the day that we can have a processor definition from the internet, download that definition in a "processor makng machine", add whatever material is needed, press a button, wait 5 minutes and "DING!" your processor is ready; well this day, maybe free hardware foundation will become popular and worth the effort. Until that time it will be a hobbyist thing and won't have any impact on the computer world compared to Free software.

Perhaps the bitgrid could fill that role by being virtual hardware?

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I fix things, I take pictures, I write, and marvel at the joy of life. I'm trying to leave the world in better condition than when I found it.